Today is Young Carers Day 2021 and as we shine the spotlight on life as a young carer, their personal experiences – in their own words – makes for stark reading.
A study by the Carers Trust has reported a steep decline in the mental health of those classed as young carers – with some carers being as young as 12 years of age. It found that many are fearful for their futures and in the most extreme cases, young carers were looking after others for up to 90 hours per week.
The survey showed the pandemic’s dramatic impact on wider well-being:
15 year old male carer: “I am unable to do my school work properly. I am finding it hard to concentrate because I am worried about the person I care for. And my mental health is going downhill which is making this situation a lot harder.”
12-year-old female carer: “When I was in school that was the time for me. Now every day is the same.” I haven’t been able to get out and talk to all my friends after school. I haven’t been able to go over to family’s houses to stop for a break.”
16-year-old female carer: “It has made me feel major cases of depression and anxiety. I feel trapped. Before my freedom to go out was larger now I have to be careful which is fine but I don’t go out as much and I feel like I’m losing confidence and my connection with my friends. I have also been gaining a lot of pent up emotions.”
18-year-old male carer: “I feel as if it has made it more difficult to care for my father as I have been unable to take care of myself properly.”
12-year-old female carer: “I have lost contact with my friends and I have lost confidence in myself. My overall motivation is very low.”
13-year-old: “It has put more stress on me and my education and has made my anxiety so high.”
14-year-old male carer: “Caring for much longer, Too much work piled in front of me from school, no support from teachers, not being able to contact friends quite often and having no time for myself to do things that normal teenagers are able to do.”
But help is out there. There are local avenues of support that understand what it is like to be a young carer and have useful information and advice. Some also organise fun things to do and give you the opportunity to meet other young carers.